The unconference was not profitable, yet it has proven itself rich with insights informing the design and early adoption of tech-enabled cohort-driven blended learning experiences.

  • 576 signups in a waitlist growing by 15 per day
  • 1 active cohort of 30 learners who met virtually twice, received prework this week, and officially start the program this Monday August 24
  • 2nd cohort applied, selected, and waiting to start

The cohort is a global group launching ventures that serve human needs aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

How we got here

For the six weeks post-unconference, I had one-on-one conversations with stakeholders to gain a deeper understanding of who we serve, what they need, and how we might support them.

A series of common pain-points within a specific segment surfaced. These pain-points informed the design of a new product we prototyped and shared as a landing page. We did a small ad spend targeted at a specific population within the intersection of two niche markets.

At first, we noticed a surge in traffic to the landing page. However, visitors were not converting. This told me our ad likely spoke to the customer problem, and the landing page outlining the solution needed adjustment.

After a few iterations to the landing page, we found the recipe that unlocked conversions, and the traffic began to convert. Within the first three days, we had 180 signups for an 8-week blended learning experience.

Emergent Leadership 8 Week Immersive

We built the application to ask the questions we’d need for an empathy map and persona canvas (needs, aspirations, obstacles, intentions, demographics, etc). The purpose behind this was to accelerate the research process and provide us with deeper customer data to inform design decisions.

As a vetting process, we hosted meet and greets organizing the learners from around the world to gather, connect, and make the experience real for them.

meet and greet

These gatherings were facilitated experiences for sharing and connection. Now that we made it this far, we felt comfortable to start architecting the new product alongside them.

Working backwards, and building upon our methodology The Four Movements, we designed the self-directed, blended learning experience for learners to bring themselves through a journey resulting in them launching a venture serving human needs.

CI four movements

Two weeks of ideation, prototyping, feedback, and testing led us to a more crystalized product that we walked the cohort through during the second round of meet and greets which took place this week.

ELI Timeline and Modules (1)

At the end, to measure each learner’s comprehension of how the program works, we asked each of them to articulate their interpretation on the live call, and reiterated in the comments section in the forum.

We started the process by bringing learners through the private Facebook Group, and now we’re moving into a private online platform (The Lab) the learners must log into in order to access the content. Take a peek inside what’s been happening with the cohort in the private Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/cooperativeimpact/

The 8-week experience is enabled through the technology platform we are building alongside learners, the Lab. It’s a central hub that contains everything a learner needs, all in one place. We’re carefully adding new elements as we learn from using it with the cohort and as we discover gaps in the experience.

CI ELI How it works

We shared prework with the cohort this week in the Lab to establish a shared language and provide a deeper understanding of how to think and act and interact with the program components and with peers.

Working within the timeline of the 8-weeks, we’ve curated a series of synchronous/asynchronous activities. We carved out an exciting 4-6 live workshops supplemented by asynchronous microlessons, and we open these workshops to the public so learners can build relationships with people outside the cohort which they must do as part of the curriculum.

Partnerships

We are in the exploration phase of scoping two partnerships and plan to finalize by August 31. One is with an artificial intelligence / machine learning startup who would be an entrepreneur-in-residence for Cooperative Impact to provide support to our learners interested in launching AI enabled ventures that serve human needs. The other partner would unlock access to serve the veteran community with our training programs.

Next steps

We’re opening our platform to facilitators to design their own blended learning experiences on Cooperative Impact. We feel it’s a natural fit: our ability to design tech-enabled learning experiences aligned with facilitators of magic who have gifts to share with the world. If you’d like to build an experience on our platform let me know.

We started this process in the summer by exploring the question, “How might we integrate superpowers like compassion, vulnerability, imagination, empathy, and innovation into society in a meaningful way.”

Through our initial community gatherings, insights from the unconference, and ongoing conversations with stakeholders we feel comfortable naming what we do as modern skills training in emotional intelligence, digital community, social innovation, and venture design.

Venture: Cooperative Impact June 15-18, 2020

Prepared by: Daniel D’Alonzo

We are committed to implementing the following improvements in the next iteration of our programming. Our next sprint plan will include action items under each of the commitments listed in section “III. Improvements”.

I. Benchmarks
II. Accomplishments
III. Improvements
IV. Next Iteration

I. Benchmarks

  • Net Revenue: $1,232
  • Facilitators: 22
  • Learners: 75
  • Partners: 1

II. Accomplishments: we acknowledge the facilitators, learners, partners, and our internal team for bringing this project to life in the midst of chaos and uncertainty.

  • Team Culture: from day one, we established an open environment of psychological safety, vulnerability, compassion, and creativity. We met as a team every week for office hours. The first 4-5 weeks were strictly focused on relationship building. During this time, we rarely talked about the business, tasks, or processes.
  • Purpose: we exist to shape the compassionate future of work. We aligned with facilitators and partners who share this intrinsic desire. We believe our shared purpose is one of the drivers of this event being a “success”.
  • Survival: we designed and produced an original program in the middle of two global crises – we collectively prevailed.
  • Vision: we began organizing the event in January. The vision we defined back then is aligned with the final product we produced. We said what we wanted to do. Then, together, we did it.
  • Participation: we had between 10-35 learners every session. We are grateful to give facilitators an opportunity to express themselves, do what they love, and share their gifts with interested people from around the world.
  • Experience: we heard from learners, facilitators, and partners they were impressed with the “flow” of the four days, and that we “pushed the boundaries of what’s possible on Zoom”. We are committed to continuing these single-tracked experiences.
  • Relationships: we see many new collaborations taking place as a result of this initiative. These collabs are between facilitators and facilitators, facilitators and learners, and facilitators and our partners.
  • Launchpad: we worked closely facilitators to support them in crafting their experience for the unconference. Many of these experiences were being prototyped for the first time. Based on the success of their session at the unconference, we see facilitators spinning off their Cooperative Impact workshops into independent workshops in collaboration with global organizations like NEXUS, Oneness Festival, and Centre for Social Innovation.
  • Marketing & Relations: we designed high-fidelity / highly polished assets, personalized email marketing campaigns, and ongoing one-on-one customer/partner relationship management to ensure each person’s need was being met/resolved immediately. Given the nature of our global crises, we are satisfied with the turnout we drew to the program while also striving to continuously improve as we move forward.
  • Execution: we feel the planning leading up to the event and the execution was overwhelming. We pivoted a few times to adapt with evolving needs resulting from covid and the civil unrest from George Floyd’s murder. We developed resilience in the process and learned how to quickly make course corrections based on the evolving needs of the people. We look forward to bringing the soft skills and increased emotional intelligence we acquired from this experience into the next iteration of our programming.
  • Microgrants: we issued microgrants of $250.00 to two learners to put towards realizing their vision and grow their social enterprise.
  • Compensation: we generated revenue for our partner and facilitators
  • Partnership: one of the ways we leveraged the partnership was to gain a deeper understanding of their community’s needs. In doing so, it gave us the pulse of where people were at any given moment. As the world navigated crisis to crisis we were in a unique position to design the unconference to serve rapidly evolving needs.
  • Leadership: in January, we pitched the vision for this program to collaborators (facilitators and partners). Our intention was to find out if you shared our vision. After 20 facilitators expressed desire for involvement, we created space for you to define what you wanted to bring to the experience and how you wanted to execute. We laid out the pieces on the table, clustered similar sessions, created categories, and designed a unique user experience as a sum of the unique parts.

III. Improvements: we are committed to implementing the following improvements in the next iteration of our programming. Our next sprint plan will include action items under each of the commitments listed below.

  • Team Culture: We started the planning process in January with a global team of about ten people (organizers and advisors). We invested the first month on values, purpose, and building relationships between the team members. We started discussing logistics of the unconference in March. It felt challenging to navigate the shift between emotional connection and “getting things done”. Covid hit. We pushed the date of the unconference a few times. Global uncertainty seemed to quickly surface our personal needs and cultural differences. Approximately half of the team felt called to remove themselves at different points between March and a week before the actual event.
    • We are committed to monitoring and addressing cultural, emotional, and organizational debt that undoubtedly accrues, especially in the midst of crisis when decision-making increases in pace so that we create an organization where our people thrive, and we, as an organization, are prepared for sudden changes in our workforce. This will take shape in the form of new internal models, programs, and processes that improve the way we work.
  • Standardization: We completed many tasks, steps, communications, and sent many emails to facilitators, partners, and facilitators throughout the course of the initiative (leading up to the unconference, during, and after).
    • We are committed to improving the experience for you by standardizing our processes, automating communications, and creating more time to focus on our relationship with you and the products/services we create together.
  • Social Emotional Support: It is rewarding and exhausting to hold space for people. Based on feedback from facilitators, one of the more special moments was when we organized the meet and greets for facilitators/speakers to be with one another.
    • We are committed to crafting more support for facilitators to process their own experiences and emotions while surrounded by their peers.
  • Data Collection: Our intention was to curate mid-level managers and leaders from corporations, governments, and higher education so that our facilitators would gain exposure to new client bases – this sounded great in theory, however, we attracted a variety of customers including college students, creators, founders, facilitators, retired workers, job seekers, and more.
    • We are committed to strengthening our data collection process so that we are able to (1) empower facilitators with information on “who is in the room” in order to personalize a more relevant experience for learners in the moment, and (2) inform strategic business decisions regarding customer segments, trends, and emerging markets.
  • Marketing: without knowledge of who our customers are, our marketing efforts were designed to cast a wide net to see which people we attracted.
    • We are committed to segmenting our existing facilitators, learners, and partners to personalize the next program’s curriculum, marketing strategy, and learning experience.
  • Experience: we received feedback that there wasn’t much time in between sessions to rest, recover, and reset.
    • We are committed to crafting our next experience with more breathing room before and after sessions.
  • Naming: we labelled this program an “unconference”, and after completing the project it seems appropriate that we reimagine how we frame our next program.
    • We are committed to testing options, getting feedback, and crafting a culturally relevant experience that serves the evolving needs of our facilitators and learners.
  • Financials: we fell short of the projections we had for the program. Our ambition was to “share the wealth”, create streams of revenue for facilitators, our partner, and Cooperative Impact.
    • We are committed to improving the financial model for our next program by using our current benchmarks as a learning tool so that we can define prices, compensations, revenue shares, expenses, etc that will produce stronger financial outcomes for all stakeholders.
  • Partnership: we anticipated a greater number of ticket sales and total revenue to be generated through the channel of our strategic partner. We take ownership of this breakdown and missed opportunity.
    • We are committed to providing additional support, clear communication, and ongoing check-ins with future strategic partners to ensure continuous alignment and uncover challenges in the moment so that we may collaboratively turn them into opportunities
  • Leadership: we are experimenting with new operating models driven by new ways of working. It was challenging to maintain a bottom-up, fully democratic and cooperative process when decision-making was needed in the face of global challenges. It was easier to build consensus (both internally with our team and with the facilitators) on decisions during the early months of the project (January – March). We found it difficult to build consensus on decisions as we neared the date of the program. In order to meet our deadlines, our leadership team felt inclined to make certain decisions without consensus.
    • We are committed to reflecting on our operating model, leadership style, and experimenting with new ways of working internally, with facilitators, and partners so that we may find the delicate balance of building continuous alignment while mapping our activities to the strategic objectives of the organization.

IV. Next Iteration: Based on what we learned from this experience, our next program will incorporate the improvements listed above, and will be designed for:

  • College students
  • Job seekers
  • Facilitators

If you have questions, comments, additional feedback please reach out anytime daniel [@] prethinc.com

I want to be intentional in how this organization grows from the bottom-up, and from the inside-out. To help facilitate this process, I put myself in the shoes of a future employee. This empowered me with an empathetic understanding of how my daily behavior influences the projected growth of the organization and the way our employees will feel along the journey.

by Daniel D’Alonzo


A story from a future employee…

It feels like I share ownership of this company alongside the leadership, my peers, partners, and customers. That’s how involved we are in the process. We don’t make 100% of the decisions together, but I appreciate being included in a conversation with leadership prior to decisions being made that will impact me.

It wasn’t until speaking one-on-one with Prethinc leadership did I realize how special this organization is at its core. The dynamic across the teams is filled with care, love, authenticity, support, honesty, trust, and kind-hearted people doing their best in this thing called life.

The environment feels safe. I am surrounded by humble humans who support my ongoing self-discovery and personal development. Humility comes to mind when trying to describe the culture. Ego tends to not get in the way of collaboration and listening to customer needs. I assume this has a lot to do with the onboarding pipeline Prethinc has for new employees. I was able to cultivate a sense of my self and the role I wanted to play in the company as a way to align myself with the culture prior to starting as a full-time employee. Getting paid to develop myself and threading that into the company is unlike anything I’ve seen or experienced.

Growing as humans has us naturally growing as a company. It seems counterintuitive to try to grow a company without first providing an opportunity for the people to grow.

Prethinc openly shares these gifts with me and each human the brand touches. The leadership has a strong background in ontological coaching which fosters ongoing conversations coming from a place of possibility. I wake up feeling inspired and go to bed feeling satisfied. It means a lot to feel valued, appreciated, and accomplished.

Specifically, I enjoy Prethinc’s Internal Innovator Initiative. The ability to launch side projects within the company shatters the ceiling that would typically cause me to seek work opportunities elsewhere. Whether it’s internally with my team or with customers I interact with, Prethinc’s platform gives me the tools to rapidly prototype new learning materials, services, and new media creations as I discover opportunities – in real-time, on-demand. This empowers us to stay ahead of the curve and improve customer experience through a high-touch and personalized approach. The trust placed in me to make decisions on my own attracts me to our brand. It also seems to influence the loyalty our customers have to our brand.

There’s more, but that’s for us to know and you to find out 🙂

I am grateful to be apart of this new organizational model that seems to naturally be evolving into a movement. I am inspired to be apart of something bigger than myself. I hope to have more opportunities to share what we are learning with you.

“It’s as if the universe knew I was entering a major life transition and she conspired to have me collide with what I needed. She’s like that.”


by Daniel DAlonzo

Three months ago, I was sitting in my Princeton, New Jersey apartment wondering if I would be in that place for the unforeseen future. That narrative remained true until I decided to write my own story.

At the time, I was participating in a 12-month personal and professional development program. Here’s a reflection from my experience in the program along with my thoughts on the future of business.

One of the participants recommended Vulnerable AF, a three hour workshop at a place called Lightning Society.

Arielle, also from my program, shared a desire to explore vulnerability. We ventured to Brooklyn to see what it was all about.

At VAF, I cultivated new superpowers and immersed in a culture that opened my mind to a new reality. VAF introduced me to a world of people just like me who were cultivating superpowers on their own terms.

I was seeking a more authentic existence and spaces to fully express myself. Once I discovered it, a seed of possibility was planted.

My dream was possible.

I designed a life plan including aspirations of the self, relationships, love, finance, and work. If actualized, I would find myself living in my new reality.

I outlined practice areas that would enable me to realize my aspirations. I set the declaration, made the commitment to go all-in, and got on the path to manifestation.

I made a decision, and continued to decide each day, that I no longer accepted the current state. I hadn’t physically moved to the city yet, but in my mind I was already there. I spoke as if I lived there. I eliminated any thought of lacking or negativity or not being ready. I lived from the future place of possibility.

I developed a mindfulness practice that came natural to me.

I found myself meditating for 30-60 minute intervals several times throughout the day. I visualized my body surrounded by a soft bubble. In the bubble, it was my space for me to be. Just be. The people, situations, and things that typically take up space in my life were in the visualization. I acknowledged them, and I gently nudged them out of my space. “This is my space.” I found myself suspended in water where all distractions fell away. I was there – nowhere – surrounded by everything and nothing.

I journaled with a new intention.

How do I feel right now? What does my body feel like? How am I being? How did I grow yesterday? Why didn’t I follow through on my commitment? Why? What becomes possible when I don’t show up for myself? What becomes possible when I take up space and own my experience? Which do I choose?

The life plan I designed articulated June 1 as the date I would be living in the city. As I neared the end of May, there were a few financial elements of the plan that had yet to fall into place. I continued to live as if I was moving to the city. I terminated my lease in NJ. I had an apartment in NYC being held for me.

My coach, Dr. Lauren Borden, PhD, kept herself out of my stories as I worked hard to rope her in. I would do my best to draw her into my context, “yes, I am doing these behaviors that aren’t good for me, but listen to my story about why I have them! See! It’s not my fault!” She showed me the state I was in – a state of being immersed in the same stories, the same narrative looped in my mind for years. Once I had elevation over the stories, I was in a position of power to decide which reality I preferred.

Lauren Borden coaching

Another thing I appreciate about Lauren was the personalized resources she recommended between our sessions. It felt valuable and special to know as a result of learning about me, and seeing my blindspots she shared specific resources that would best serve me.

In the middle of my manifestation she recommended I read Jen Sincero’s book, You are a Badass at Making Money. I listened to it on audio book that day in its entirety. I had to be sure that I did everything I could possibly do and put it all on the line.

Two other books were recommended and played a critical role in this transformation: Conversations with God and Zen and the Art of Falling in Love.

Sincero’s voice was there to remind me I was surrounded by abundance. I would be presented with what I need when I need it.

Two nights before June 1, there were still components of the plan that had yet to fall into place. I intentionally positioned myself so there would be no choice to give up because there is now only the way forward. I trusted the universe was conspiring in my favor. I had a dream that night about a sequence of events I hadn’t thought of prior. These events would ultimately lead to me moving to the city. I awoke with a loud, “Aha!”

Possibility.

The feminine energy that led me to this moment began to shift to a series of “doings”.

Over the next 36 hours, I watched the universe carefully pick me up from my apartment in Princeton, NJ and gently place me in my new home in Brooklyn, NY.

I experienced the magic.

Knowing what becomes possible when I give myself permission to take up space, play big, and live from that future-facing conversation has me sharing the gift as much as possible. It’s a key that unlocks doors of opportunity. Social mobility is what gives me hope.

It has me wondering, “What becomes possible now that I experienced the magic?”

I settled into my Brooklyn apartment. I learned one of my roommates has strong social justice and digital advocacy gifts. We got the talkin’ a few times, and recently had an opportunity to go deeper.

In the first four days of Brooklyn life, I signed four new clients. I now had some runway to explore the city.

My life began to expand.

I found my way to the East Village where a group of people I never met were running a popup shop for empathy. I hadn’t been to a popup shop for empathy.

I made new friends, shared vulnerably with compassionate strangers, and experienced ongoing gratitude. Especially during the moments of direct, one-on-one human connection as I was fortunate to share with Elizabeth Werbe, seen in the cover of the video. There weren’t many rules, but the popup generally wasn’t where people came to talk about occupations. When I come in contact with a person from the social innovation / social enterprise space we relate in a unique way. Speaking with Elizabeth reminded me of my roots, and I am grateful for beginning to cultivate a one-on-one together.

At the popup, I had an opportunity to heal through some life events that I would have typically kept to myself. One evening, I sat with David Sauvage, founder of the Empath Popup, to work through something specific. He joined me in my experience and shared with me the ability to feel my way through the pain. There were tears, but they came from relief. David gave this gift to me after our session.

Empath gift

Surrounded by a supportive community had me feeling aligned and connected with my humanity. Bailey Robinson and Jess Mason brought this concept to life with David. They share their gifts passionately and I am grateful to have received them.

It’s as if the universe knew I was entering a major life transition and she conspired to have me collide with the Empath Popup so I had what I needed upon my arrival.

She’s like that.

I experienced authentic connection at the popup. Rather than sticking to the basics there was an invitation to go deeper. We shared how we experienced each other. We shared what was coming up for us in the moment. We shared our feelings. Life challenges. It was a healing space. The Empath Popup was a social experiment. The team is now spreading the love globally with their first Empath Online Popup this week August 16-20th.

Empath Online Popup

At the popup, I met my future accountability partner who invited me to the enlightenment studio, Three Jewels, where her and I meet weekly to cultivate a deep sense of ourselves. We began the engagement with a conversation dedicated to values.

Three Jewels

We created the container for our partnership and operate through the principles of the social contract. This relationship brought a new level of self-awareness for me. Also, knowing I would be meeting with her each week had me showing up differently for myself throughout each day, “If I don’t do xyz I am going to have to explain why.” This engagement is also unleashing my creative spirit as I turn my practice areas into tools for others to use.

View tools →

I continued to explore new communities.

I met a mystic at a potluck who I now meet regularly with to talk about life, consciousness, and dance in the exploration of possibility.

I connected with Remy Teicher, an artist I met at the potluck. She was kind enough to invite me to a picnic in Prospect Park.

snacknic

We did yoga, shared snacks, sipped juice, sat in a circle, and exercised our imaginations.

Creating this article has me reflecting on these wondrous experiences in a new way. To see all of your work together is powerful. I acknowledge you for the gifts you are sharing with humanity. I am honored to be apart of it.

The opportunity to connect deeply with healthy male role models is something I expressed as a desire at the popup. That same day, an elevated, purpose-driven man named Nathan Schultz arrived to the popup. We got the talkin’ and I learned he is involved in the men’s community. He runs men’s circles from his home. We connected and have been cultivating a one-on-one relationship ever since. Nathan also invited me to break bread at the first coed Dinner Confidential at the founder, Sybil Ottenstein’s, home where we shared our stories with another cluster of extraordinary humans.

Dinner Confidential

At the dinner, one of the men, Kevin Hermann, shared a story that resonated with me. I later discovered he runs the men’s groups with Nathan. Another kindred spirit I aligned with in this thing called life.

I am grateful for the opportunity to traverse a few of the dynamic pockets of this city. Each experience brings with it a heightened sense of clarity, self-trust, and a knowing of who I am and the gifts I am here to share.

Last week, I was having coffee with another person I met at the popup. Sarah Davis and I meet weekly for coffee. She inspired me to invite all of you to an event of sorts. As I reached out to each of you one-at-a-time I realized the power of what I was immersed in.

I arrived to NYC three months ago only knowing one person. Now, I am blessed with the opportunity to invite you to an intimate gathering.

I thought, “I am a founder, surrounded by creators, makers, entrepreneurs, and this certainly feels like the way.”

Founder’s Way is born.

Founder’s Way is an intimate gathering of humans having future-facing conversations coming from a place of possibility. It’s a space to strengthen social ties, bridge unlikely connections, and explore the future.